SEARCH Helping Michigan Indian Tribes Comply with Adam Walsh Act Requirements

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More than 60 people attended a workshop hosted by SEARCH on October 30 to help Michigan's Indian tribes comply with the justice information sharing requirements of the Adam Walsh Act, specifically the act's sex offender registration and notification requirements.

It was the first time in recent memory that all 12 federally recognized Indian tribes in Michigan were represented at such an event. The workshop was held in Petoskey, Michigan.

During the workshop, panelists explained the Walsh Act's information sharing requirements and answered questions from attendees. Panelist Leslie Hagen, Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Justice Department's Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office, reported that 212 of the nation's 572 federally recognized Indian tribes were eligible to undertake Walsh Act requirements.

Of these 212 tribes, 198 passed resolutions indicating their intention to take responsibility for implementing the Walsh Act, five chose not to participate, and nine didn't indicate a position either way, Hagen said.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, signed by President Bush in July 2006, required the tribes to make their decisions known to the Attorney General of the United States by July 27, 2007. All jurisdictions, including tribes, states and U.S. territories, must meet the Walsh Act requirements by July 27, 2009, although they may seek two one-year extensions.

Despite having notified the Attorney General of their intention to establish sex offender registries, the Michigan tribes (and others as well) may still choose to negotiate with the State in which they are located and, ultimately, enter into cooperative agreements to share responsibilities for enforcing the Walsh Act if the agreements satisfy the act's requirements.

Another alternative is for tribes to form a consortium through which a joint, single registry, rather than multiple registries, could be established.

The workshop also examined general justice information sharing beyond that required by the Walsh Act.

While participating in a panel discussion during this part of the program, Judge Michael Petoskey, Chief Judge of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tribal Court in Traverse City, Michigan, explained that tribal justice differs from more traditional forms of justice in that it focuses on individual healing and community harmony.

The primary goals of tribal courts are to protect the peace and safety of the people, reinforce the Indian identity, and tie people to the Indian culture, traditions and community values, Judge Petoskey said.

Workshop participants and panelists from the Michigan State Police included-
  • Ms. Diane Sherman, Director of the Criminal Justice Information Center (CJIC) and Michigan's representative to the SEARCH Membership Group
  • Capt. Charles Bush, Commander of the Criminal Records Division
  • Mr. Timothy Bolles, Manager of the CJIC Criminal History Section
  • Mr. Thomas Evans, CJIS Policy Council Executive Secretary.

Other panelists and participants included-
  • Mr. Jeff Davis, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan
  • Capt. Chris Bailey, Chief of Police, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
  • Mr. William Gregory, Tribal Prosecutor for the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians
  • Mr. George LeVasseur, MIS Director for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
  • Dr. Gerard Ramker, Chief of Criminal Justice Data Improvement Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Mr. Gene Zeller, Tribal Prosecutor for the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.

Mr. Owen Greenspan, SEARCH Director of Law and Policy, served as workshop moderator.


Mr. William Gregory (L), Tribal Prosecutor for the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians, who helped organize the workshop, and Mr. Owen Greenspan, SEARCH Director of Law and Policy, who moderated the event, greet workshop participants.
 
A workshop panel included (L to R) Ms. Diane Sherman, Director, Criminal Justice Information Center, Michigan State Police; Ms. Leslie Hagen, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice SMART Office; and Mr. Gene Zeller, Tribal Prosecutor, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.


Panelists Capt. Chris Bailey (L), Chief of Police, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and Judge Michael Petoskey, Chief Judge, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tribal Court, participate in workshop discussions.
 

Another panelist was Dr. Gerry Ramker, Chief, Criminal Justice Data Improvement Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.